How Glen Campbell Discovered One of His Biggest Hits
Jimmy Webb wrote some of Glen Campbell’s most famous songs while inadvertently leading him to at least one hit he didn’t — “Southern Nights.”
Webb, whose credits include “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston,” took to his website to pay special tribute to his longtime friend, who died Tuesday (Aug. 8) at age 81.
During a 2010 interview with CMT.com, Webb talked at length about Campbell’s unwavering support of songwriters and his unique ability to hear a mainstream hit in left-of-center material.
In addition to recording Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights,” Campbell was apparently responsible for lobbying Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson to record Webb’s “The Highwayman.” The latter revitalized their individual careers while providing a name for the superstar quartet.
“Depending on the way you hear the story, Glen says he played ‘Highwayman’ for Waylon and Willie and Johnny and Kris,” Webb said. “And that would have been probably five or six years after Glen recorded ‘Highwayman.’”
And as quirky as it seemed to suggest that Jennings, Nelson, Cash and Kristofferson record a song about reincarnation and spaceships, Campbell also heard the commercial potential in the title track of Southern Nights, a 1975 album by New Orleans R&B singer-songwriter Allen Toussaint.
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